AG says rent relief measures need more dialogue, “everybody must take a hit”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A resolution to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency, regulations and emergency orders until April 8 has been passed into law.
The resolution was passed unanimously in the House of Assembly and Senate this afternoon.
The 24-hour curfew, border shutdown and closure of roads and most businesses will continue for nine more days – at which time health officials will reassess the effectiveness of preventative measures.
Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly, Renward Wells, noted on the floor, “there is a possibility for another extension.
“We will review and be in a better position to say whether or not the order will be extended or if we will move in a different direction.”
During debate, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest acknowledged the financial implications of the pandemic.
He assured The Bahamas will conquer and win the battle against the virus.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis echoed those sentiments, declaring that the though the road ahead is challenged, the government will steer the country through COVID-19 and the economic fallout that follows.
As a result of the border closure, two of the largest hotels in the nation — Baha Mar and the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island — have suspended operations, temporarily laying off thousands of workers.
Senator Fred Mitchell, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, called on the government to engage the new commmissioner of police Paul Rolle to ensure clear interpretation of the emergency orders.
However, Attorney General Carl Bethel said officers were understandably frustrated by the failure of some people to adhere to the 24-hour curfew.
Bethel also explained rent relief measures foreshadowed by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis during Sunday’s national address, will need more dialogue.
“There has been too much violation of the spirit and intention of curfew,” he said.
“It means you stay at home, it means you only leave if you have something essential and then come back home.
Bethel continued: “I was shocked by the amount of cars on the road. If the police get a little frustrated, it’s because police see this happening and have obviously made a judgement that they need to ask more questions of people.
“Until Bahamians accept a 24-hour curfew means you don’t go out driving so you could feel the breeze, just to have fun. It means you must stay at home unless you have an essential thing to do.”
Bethel added: “So I apologize on their behalf in advance…every time they have to stop some car, they themselves are at risk with whatever is going on in that car.”